2021 Entrepreneurial Awards

Old Town General Store, Truly Michigan-Made

Organic, relating to living matter and the body. Eating organic is becoming more of a trend, and with good reason. It gains popularity as…

Organic, relating to living matter and the body. Eating organic is becoming more of a trend, and with good reason. It gains popularity as people are becoming not only savvier about what they eat but are beginning to question what exactly it is that they are eating. Organic is a great way to keep your body in its natural order. Organic food is grown or raised by natural standards, i.e. without any chemicals. It’s fresher as it doesn’t have the gross pesticides or bacteria found in other foods that have the potential to make you sick. Organic food not only benefits those that eat it but it also helps the environment to flourish. The Old Town General Store, located in Lansing, understands the need for organic food in its community. This small town store creates a shopper-friendly atmosphere centered on its Michigan-made products.
The Old Town General Store sprouted as an idea for 52-year-old store owner, Rhea Van Atta, a few years ago while she was hanging out with a group of friends. “I didn’t think that I would actually be the one to do it, but it was a time in my life for a career change. I decided that I wanted to work for myself instead of for someone else.” Van Atta is very passionate about her initiative to keep the products in her store locally grown or Michigan-made in an effort to show what Michigan has to offer as well as help to build our economy. Apparently it was a great move because the customers are just as excited to support her and show their Michigander pride.
The Lansing native thrived on the idea of being able to come back to her hometown and provide the community with a store that creates a unique experience for its shoppers. After two years of being in business, the general store is doing just that. It provides customers with organic groceries, Michigan-crafted beers and wine, Michigan-themed gifts and other Michigan treats. The small general store carries mostly the same variety of items that you would see in chain food stores. They offer anything from meats to produce and spices, but you can also find a thing or two that isn’t on your grocery list like a toy for your child to play with or cookware. Van Atta wanted to take advantage of the ‘general store’ title so that she could not only sell groceries but other great products that resemble Michigan or that are just made here.
The groceries in the store come from local brands that you know and trust such as Mooville milk, Stone Circle bread, Higher Ground coffee, Alden Mill spices, Yooper pickled products and many more. The beers that fill your cup come from surrounding breweries and that also includes Michigan-made hard ciders. The general store’s wine selection features award winning wine from Michigan-made as well as other wineries across the country and around the world. The foods displayed in the store are all grown locally. There is a wide selection of groceries allowing customers to purchase everything that they need for well-balanced meals. Van Atta is very selective about the food that is sold in her store. She likes to know where it came from, and how it was grown. She takes care in selecting local farms to buy from that honor her standards of healthy food growth.
The store also offers beautifully crafted gift baskets. These baskets can either come pre-wrapped and packed with great products or you can create a completely customizable basket for yourself, a boss or a family member. These gift baskets are a great surprise for anyone. They can be packed with fresh or canned food products, spices, home decorations and more. Van Atta’s goal is to provide quality products at a reasonable price.
Shopping is not the only activity that the store provides. It also gives people the opportunity to get involved with others in the community. The more frequent events that the store hosts include Winey Wednesdays and Frothy-Tasting Friday’s. You can also hear music at Concerts in the Courtyard or attend a workshop at the store. This is a store owner that really supports her community not only to promote her business but also to bring everyone one step closer together. Shopping in the Old Town General Store isn’t a task, it’s more like a trip to see a friend.


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